The “Where Should Networks Invest Their Resources in 2013?” panel discussion at Performance Marketing Insights: New York began with introductions by its distinguished members, Geno Prussakov, AM Navigator; Rebecca Madigan, Performance Marketing Association; Robert Glazer, Acceleration Partners; Jessie Jones, Popshops; and Ikonya Nginyo, Dr. The question posed as the central topic of discussion seemed simple enough, but the answers proved complex.

The conversation commenced with agreement from the panellists with all pointing toward the belief that the digital marketing landscape for all participants—publishers, advertisers, networks–was changing. Whether triggered by big data, concerns over fraud and regulation, or the dramatic shift in consumer behaviour, change in the context of the industry could not be denied. From that single baseline, however, sprung a diversity of answers to the question of investment of resources, but these answers were more exploratory than definitive and launched a lively discussion amongst panel members, the live audience, and the Twittersphere…and maybe that was the point.

A conversation of network focus cannot be had without the mention of fraud and the provision of complete information. Seen by many in the industry as a double-edged sword, calls for transparency was met with debate, but nothing stirred the pot more than talk of fraud and self-regulation.


Panellists and audience members from the U.K. spoke of the self-regulation that has shaped what panellists called a “younger, fresher” and “more civil” market in the U.K., while an audience member expressed disbelief that the U.S., a more mature landscape with the largest digital advertising market in the world, did not self-regulate. This discussion opened the floodgates with panellists putting forth the following thoughts and assertions, allowing other broader concepts–and questions–to emerge.

On Big Data: – There is a need for networks to start taking a harder line on fraud and sharing more information, while stopping the piecemealing of information – An important attribute of giant networks is their ability to track processes and data, end-to-end

Question: Is there an opportunity for all parties to allocate resources to leverage data and provide beneficial insights to increase profit and opportunity rather than threaten it?

On Advertising: – There exists an opportunity for smaller, nimbler networks that are more responsive to publishers, advertisers – There is room for a new advertising model that will change the game

Question: Is there an opportunity to allocate resources to break the mould and disrupt the advertising space?

On Convergence: – There is a need for advertisers to not silo their digital ad channels, and to communicate across channels – There is no ownership in the industry, no one single source to push for change – An industry-defining manifesto might be a good idea

_Question: Is there an opportunity to allocate resources and join forces, at all levels, geared toward the convergence of the industry? _

On Self-regulation: – A call for fostering in-house expertise, self-responsibility, and self-regulation – Consumer behaviour is changing, touch points are changing

Question: Is there an opportunity to leave the past behind, embrace change, take responsibility and create guidelines for the future of the industry?

This discussion, which began with a big industry question called for another big industry question, one echoed in concept by Mark Walters of Affiliate Window in the “Fear in Affiliate Marketing” panel, “Is there an opportunity to turn fear in the industry to opportunity?”